The Armstrong And Miller Show, BBC1

by | Oct 26, 2007 | All, Reviews

Did we like it?

It was pretty funny, but there was an air that it was like an exotic bird that has been snared from its wild, iridescent homeland, had its wings clipped and been reduced to prancing flamboyantly about a zoo cage while the goggle-mouthed masses wander past in a state of blasted ennui pointing aimlessly and attempting to carve their mouths into laughs and summon a sound resembling a smile from the pit of their empty stomachs.

What was good about it?

• The father who is brutally honest to his son Paul, jovially telling him that it is entirely his fault that he and Paul’s mother split up because they struggled to cope with having a baby.

• The high-powered businessman striding along a high-powered corridor affirming or dismissing the latest corporate news from his fawning minions – but their messages gradually degrade into the latest celebrity gossip, urban myths or ‘facts’ from Wikipedia. “A swan’s wing can break your arms,” one breathlessly gasps.” “Red Bull is banned in France!” cries another. “How do they stay awake?” asks the businessman.” “They don’t, they just go to sleep.”

• Roger, a gullible husband who comes home unexpectedly from work to find his wife Holly and best friend Peter dressed in bondage gear. They manage to convince Roger that they’re holding a surprise Easter party for him. As Peter soothes Roger’s (dumb) suspicions Holly pops out to the kitchen, returning later with: “Sorry I forgot to get any booze. Is milk OK?”

• Alexander Armstrong’s Who Do You Think You Are?, during which he discovered his granny and great aunts were all employed in the oldest profession and his grandfather was a paedophile. It went on a bit too long though.

• The choking etiquette of the Jane Austen-esque dances, during which the gentlemen inform their genteel partners in ornate, archaic language of various sexual proclivities they are experiencing.

What was bad about it?

• The snooty World War Two pilots who gossip in modern teen patois. This has been done better on Goodness, Gracious Me and Creature Comforts (which it most resembles). The sketches also were maimed by the fact that teen vernacular is the rotting, atrophying frostbitten fingers of the English language (and has been for at least 40 years); it always sounds as if a dictionary has been ram-raided and everything rich and expressive stripped out leaving just bare furnishings and a few illiterate graffiti scrawls.

• Perhaps this will redress in later episodes, but there did seem to be an awful lot more Armstrong than Miller.

• The wheelchair bound raconteur and his timid, oily pianist sidekick that seemed to be an esoteric hark back to Armstrong and Miller’s days at Cambridge; and this was the modern-day updating of an indulgent sketch that only about 3% of the viewers would understand.

• The “Kill them” sequence of sketches were OK, but seemed a little rudderless as the format was that an act of kindness – by a record executive, a Santa Claus and the Pope – was followed by him whispering to unseen associates to kill them once they’d left his sight, yet there seemed no purpose to having them killed and was too clinical to be an act of vengeance.

• The sinister Abramovich-esque foreign businessman who coerces a football manager to become his team’s new coach after the previous ones all met grisly ends. Another idea that’s both been done before and better, notably with Spitting Image’s Terry Venables and David Platt.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles

26/10/2007

Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!

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